Tuesday, 18 September 2012
In this month's issue of Israel's Restoration, I reported on a presentation given to the UMJC conference by Dr Craig Blaising, entitled: Israel and the Nations: The Key to Understanding the Bible.
Dr. Blaising views the whole thrust of the Scriptures as moving to an eternal order as seen in Revelation 21 where Israel and the nations are one under the rule of Yeshua. There is ultimately one people of God, but within that one people is the ethnic, racial and social diversity of many peoples that still preserve the cultural varieties loved by God.
Central to this is the distinction of Israel and the nations. The word "nations" is a shorthand way of including each nation precious to God without naming them all. In Revelation 21 we see that each nation brings its own distinct glory into the New Jerusalem. The ultimate picture there is the Kingdom of God in its fullness, where God fully rules and His will is done on earth as it is in heaven. Before we get to this amazing final end of resurrection life and joyful eternity, there are historical developments to be fulfilled along the way.
One of the errors of past theologies is to think that the Church replaces Israel, as a kind of new or continuing Israel. This cannot be the case in the light of the strong Biblical statements to the contrary. Another error is to think that the Jewish people are on a shelf and God is no longer using them for this "Church Age." This erroneous view contends that after the Church is raptured at the beginning of the Tribulation, God will again use Israel, and especially the 144,000 of the Book of Revelation as His witnesses to the world (See, Revelation 7:1ff). There is nothing in the Bible to support this "shelf theology". Rather, Israel is and remains a witness and an active instrument of God. The key to understanding the Body of Believers is that it is called the Bride of Messiah as a foreshadowing of what all the people of God will be in the Ultimate Kingdom of Revelation 21. Blaising emphasizes, as do I, that Jews and Gentiles, while distinct, are spiritually equal in the Body of the Messiah.
This has great implications for Jewish disciples of Yeshua, for they still are part of Israel while being part of the Bride of Messiah, the fellowship of Jews and all kinds of Gentiles. Within that fellowship is room for all kinds of expressions of faith, including a Jewish expression where Jews are encouraged to maintain a corporate Jewish identity in the Body of the Messiah, and a continued connection to Jewry or ethnic Israel.
Read the whole article here and join in the discussion. Some good points have already been made, but please feel free to contribute to the debate ...